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Last week, Regulation 103 was the hotbed education issue of the week, and Delaware parents, teachers, and organizations had a victory of sorts in stopping the Delaware State Board of Education from acting on this regulation at their October meeting. But Penny Schwinn, the Chief Officer of Accountability and Assessment at the Delaware DOE stated she was going to seek official answers from the United States DOE over the issue of participation rate in the standardized assessment. Based on research, I already knew the answer, but I decided to seek some answers from the Delaware DOE over this.
Could you please provide me with a copy of the letter Deborah Delisle sent to the DOE indicating the participation rate category in the accountability system for the ESEA Flexibility Renewal had to be used as a “consequence” in the ESEA mandate school report card, otherwise known in Delaware as the Delaware School Success Framework?
Thank you very much,
From: Reyna Ryan <Ryan.Reyna@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <email@example.com>
Cc: Schwinn Penny <Penny.Schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>; “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>; Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 4:11 PM
Subject: RE: US DOE Deborah Delisle Letter
From: Kevin Ohlandt [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2015 4:17 PM
To: Reyna Ryan
Cc: Schwinn Penny; email@example.com; Blowman David
Subject: Re: US DOE Deborah Delisle Letter
Thank you Ryan,
I’ve actually already seen that letter and published it on my blog the next day. The letter you sent me was from 4/23/15, well after the AFWG group talked about participation rate and it was submitted into the ESEA Waiver renewal on the 3/31 draft. This would be a letter referenced to the AFWG concerning the rationale for participation rate in the Delaware School Success Framework that specifically uses the word “consequence”. Dr. Schwinn told the group about this letter. I would like to have a copy of it. Thank you,
From: Schwinn Penny <Penny.Schwinn@doe.k12.de.us>
To: Kevin Ohlandt <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Reyna Ryan <Ryan.Reyna@doe.k12.de.us>
Cc: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Blowman David <david.blowman@DOE.K12.DE.US>
Sent: Friday, September 18, 2015 7:07 AM
Subject: RE: US DOE Deborah Delisle Letter
Good morning Mr. Ohlandt,
The letter that Ryan is referencing and the one that was discussed at AFWG stem from the same place. Based on feedback from stakeholders, DDOE asked USDOE for clarification on this issue in early March. These conversations were largely on the phone and, recognizing that this does not allow for documentation, DDOE requested an official letter from USDOE stating their position on these issues. The letter on 4/23 was the documentation of the information that had been provided to DDOE (and then communicated to AFWG) previously. Both the very top of page 5 as well as the end of the first full paragraph of page 5 reference the need to include a consequence in the accountability system. This is no different than what is currently required through AYP, which as you know is more limited in what is included in accountability metrics.
I absolutely appreciate and understand your disagreement with the idea of imposing consequences in this area, and also recognize that this is different than the information and direction that has been provided by USDOE. I hope there are other areas in the DSSF, especially when compared to AYP, that you find are moving our state in the right direction.
All the best,
I covered this letter from US DOE Assistant Secretary Deborah Delisle last April. During the House Education Committee meeting, Delaware Secretary of Education Mark Murphy referenced a letter sent from US DOE warning about all the potential consequences of opt-out. After much discussion and even argument, and a significant amount of public comment, the Delaware House Education Committee released the opt-out legislation, House Bill 50, out of committee. That evening I emailed the Delaware DOE for a copy of this letter, which they complied with the very next day in addition to putting it on their website. Which resulted
In the above emails, Penny Schwinn referenced “telephone calls” with US DOE. Which of course is not documented. In February, Deborah Delisle sent a similar letter to Alaska in regards to what is required and what is not. The key words in this letter are as follows:
In addition, all SEAs with approved ESEA flexibility plans have included specific consequences in their accountability systems for any school that misses participation rate, and must implement this component of their accountability systems with fidelity.
In every other section where Ms. Delisle referenced what is required, she gave specific federal regulatory code and cited it. In this line, there was NO reference to any regulatory code or law. On August 28th and 29th, I spent hours combing through ESEA Flexibility Waiver requirements and found NO reference anywhere to specific penalties in a state’s accountability system, which resulted in this article debunking Schwinn’s claim. Yes, Ms. Delisle referenced a non-regulatory claim without any reference to an actual law or regulation at the top of page 5. The key is in the wording. She sandwiched the part about participation rate being included in a state’s accountability system between two regulations and laws, but that particular part is not referenced anywhere in those. Ms. Delisle is no longer working at the US Department of Education.
As well, the Delaware PTA, in their official public comment at the State Board of Education meeting last week stated they checked with US DOE and found there is NO mandatory requirement to have participation rate on the state assessment as a penalizing factor on the school report card.
So we are at this point: the non-DOE members of the Accountability Framework Working Group collectively voted down having the participation rate penalty as part of the Delaware School Success Framework as seen in the above link. DSEA spoke in opposition to it as well. If the Delaware DOE does this, they are making it their own individual choice to include it based on no law or regulation requiring it. And everyone else who has spoken on it, aside from the lone wolf Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens who receives their funding from the Delaware DOE, has been in opposition to this.
To read the Alaska letter, please see below:
So we are once again at a point where the Delaware DOE is telling everyone this is required and it really isn’t. I can’t wait to see what kind of response the US DOE provides Penny Schwinn in regards to this when she asks them for “official” answers. Sorry Penny, phone calls and non-regulatory threats with no legal backing behind them do not count as “mandatory”. I would strongly suggest you have the Delaware DOE attorney thoroughly check any correspondence from US DOE on this issue. Because we won’t be fooled again.